This NOAA Drought Task Force/NIDIS report details the results of an extensive multi-research-group analysis of the causes and predictability of the drought. The report finds that the exceedingly warm and dry conditions that caused the drought were due to a high pressure ridge off the west coast of the United States influenced heavily by anomalous sea surface temperatures. These influences are attributed to natural variability.

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NOAA's Drought Task Force was established in October 2011 with the ambitious goal of achieving significant new advances in the ability to understand, monitor and predict drought over North America. The Task Force (duration was October 2011 – September 2014) was an initiative of NOAA’s Climate Program Office Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) program in partnership with NIDIS. It brought together over thirty leading MAPP-funded drought scientists from multiple academic and federal institutions (involved scientists from NOAA’s research laboratories and centers, NASA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, NCAR and many universities), in a concerted research effort that built on individual MAPP research projects. These projects spanned the wide spectrum of drought research needed to make fundamental advances, from those aimed at the basic understanding of drought mechanisms to those aimed at testing new drought monitoring and prediction tools for operational and service purposes (as part of NCEP’s Climate Test Bed). The Drought Task Force provided focus and coordination to MAPP drought research activities, and also facilitated synergies with other national and international drought research efforts, including those by the GDIS.

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Advancing NIDIS Objectives

How Research Is Improving How We Monitor and Predict Drought

Research Objectives

Understanding, Monitoring, and Predicting Drought

Implementation:


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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.